THE Maoists unleashed an orgy of violence when they attacked the East Frontier Rifles (EFR) camp at Silda in the West Midnapur district of West Bengal. Of the 36 jawans present at the time of the attack, the Maoists massacred 24 and left 7 others injured. Their main motive appears to be to loot the armoury apart from terrorising the area and making a blood-soaked statement with impunity that they shall defy all joint operations by the central and state forces to restore peace and normalcy in the area. The Maoists looted around 40 sophisticated firearms.
The attack took place in broad daylight on the day of the weekly bazaar, “haat”, that assembled near the camp. West Bengal director general of police has gone on record to state that the jawans found it difficult to retaliate fire in the fear of collateral damage as thousands had gathered for their weekly purchases. The West Bengal state government has ordered an official enquiry to establish if there was any case of intelligence failure or other factors which could have possibly prevented such an attack. This attack has only redoubled the resolve to put an end to this mindless violence that has gripped the area generating terror and anarchy.
On February 9, the union home minister had convened a meeting of the chief ministers of West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar at Kolkata to discuss joint operations that need to be launched by the respective state forces along with the central forces to combat Maoist violence. By now it is clear that Maoist squads move across the borders of the adjoining states in order to avoid confrontation with the police and paramilitary forces of one particular state after they mount an attack in the other state. Since law and order is a state subject, the forces of one state cannot operate in the other except when explicitly permitted to do so. In order to prevent the Maoists from taking advantage of this situation to carry out their violent terrorist attacks it is necessary that all the four state governments and the centre act in unison to combat this menace. Media reports suggest that even in this attack on the EFR camp in Mednipur the Maoist squads returned to their hideouts in Jharkhand after the attack.
After the February 9 meeting the union home minister had publicly told the Maoists, “Once you halt violence, we are ready to talk to you. My earlier appeals were spurned by them and we had to continue with the operations and if the appeal is spurned again we will again start operations”. With this outrageous attack on the EFR camp it is clear that the Maoists have once again spurned the appeal of the union home minister. Repeatedly in the past the prime minister has stated both on the floor of the parliament and in public that Maoist violence constitutes the gravest threat to India’s internal security. It is time to meet this threat squarely in the interests of the nation and the people.
The Trinamul Congress continues to play footsie with the Maoists as clearly demonstrated by its chief unwilling to name the Maoists as being responsible for this attack. This despite the fact that the Maoist leaders themselves have publicly acknowledged in the media that they are responsible for this attack and this was their answer to the joint operations to be launched by the centre and various state governments. That the Maoists reciprocate the Trinamul Congress’s softness became clear when their spokesman informed sections of the media that the Maoists “will not attack or target the Trinamul Congress”. Two days before this attack on the EFR camp, the Maoist leader of West Midnapur announced, “We have decided that there will be no action or punishment of any kind against Trinamul functionaries”. A few days earlier Maoist leader Kishenji had extended support to the Trinamul and welcomed its leader’s move to demand the withdrawal of security forces from West Midnapur. (Asian Age, February 17). By now it is well-known that the Trinamul Congress has openly called for a halt of all operations by security forces against the Maoists so that the latter can continue to terrorise the people through their violence and browbeat them into opposing the Left Front in the forthcoming elections to the state assembly in 2011.
The union home minister had earlier sounded a little sympathetic to the Trinamul Congress demand when he said on February 9 that “she (Mamata) is concerned that the general people would be affected by the joint operations and it is a genuine concern. We have to take note of her concern and we would act accordingly.” With this latest outrageous attack it is clear that the Maoists are bent upon perpetuating their violence and are finding a high degree of solace and comfort to carry out their murderous attacks given the stand taken by the Trinamul Congress. The Congress Party and the UPA-II will have to take a call on explaining to the people how a union cabinet minister can act in defiance of the prime minister’s public utterances that the Maoist violence constitutes the gravest threat to India’s internal security.
While the Maoists have decided that they would not take any action or punishment against Trinamul functionaries, they have so far since the general elections murdered in cold blood 168 cadre belonging to the CPI(M). All these comrades belonged to those very exploited and oppressed classes whose interests the Maoists claim to espouse. The targeting and killing of key CPI(M) cadre is part of the gameplan to terrorise the general public and in turn favour the prospects of the Trinamul Congress in the forthcoming assembly elections. The Trinamul Congress is pursuing such a diabolical electoral agenda at the immense cost of human life and spread of anarchy.
Way back on January 15, the Trinamul Congress chief told a public meeting that she was giving a seven day ultimatum to the Maoists to come to the negotiations table. “Or else, I shall launch padayatras to restore peace and rule of law.” Even after six weeks there has been no padayatra and it is clear that such utterances were only for public consumption. Revealing the real motive she said at the same meeting: “if necessary, I shall try my best to prevail upon the union government to meet your demands including withdrawal of joint forces from Lalgarh.” (Telegraph, January 16)
It is clear that such political maneuvering at the cost of bloodshed and at the expense of loss of human life, spread of terror and anarchy, posing a grave threat to peace and normalcy as well as to India’s internal security cannot be allowed to succeed in the interests of our country and the future of our people. It is imperative that the joint operations with the central forces and a coordinated action by the four concerned state governments must be intensified to ensure that peace and normalcy returns to these areas and the threats to internal security are squarely met.
(February 21, 2010)